The role of mutations associated with familial neurodegenerative disorders on blood-brain barrier function in an iPSC model

Moriah E. Katt, Lakyn N. Mayo, Shannon E. Ellis, Vasiliki Machairaki, Jeffrey D Rothstein, Linzhao Cheng, Peter C. Searson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Blood-brain barrier dysfunction is associated with many late-stage neurodegenerative diseases. An emerging question is whether the mutations associated with neurodegenerative diseases can independently lead to blood-brain barrier (BBB) dysfunction. Studies from patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells suggest that mutations associated with neurodegenerative disease are non-cell autonomous, resulting in gain of toxic function in derived neurons and astrocytes. Here we assess whether selected mutations associated with neurodegenerative diseases can contribute to impairment of the blood-brain barrier. Methods: We assessed barrier function of confluent monolayers of human brain microvascular endothelial cells (hBMECs) derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) from three healthy individuals and eight individuals with neurodegenerative disease. We systematically assessed protein and gene expression of BBB biomarkers, transendothelial resistance (TEER), permeability of Lucifer yellow, permeability of d-glucose, permeability of rhodamine 123, the efflux ratio of rhodamine 123, and P-gp inhibition using Tariquidar for confluent monolayers of human brain microvascular endothelial cell (hBMECs). Results: We provide evidence supporting the hypothesis that mutations associated with neurodegenerative disease can independently cause BBB dysfunction. These functional changes are not catastrophic since barrier breakdown would result in BBB impairment during development. Synergistic interactions between non-cell autonomous cerebrovascular dysfunction and the effects of gain-of-toxic function in neurons (e.g. toxic oligomers) are likely to increase disease burden through a positive feedback mechanism. Conclusions: These results suggest that the accumulation of defects in brain microvascular endothelial cells may ultimately lead to impairment of the BBB. Small changes in barrier function over time could lead to accumulated defects that result in positive feedback to unrelated central nervous system diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20
JournalFluids and Barriers of the CNS
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 15 2019



  • Blood-brain barrier
  • Differentiation
  • Human brain microvascular endothelial cells
  • Induced pluripotent stem cells
  • Neurodegenerative disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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